Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dwile Flonking

Castle square & Cathedral

Dwile Flonking

The pastime of Dwile Flonking involves two teams, each taking a turn to dance around the other while attempting to avoid a beer-soaked dwile (cloth) thrown by the non-dancing team.

'Flonk' is probably a corruption of flong, an old past tense of fling; and "dwile" is a knitted floor cloth, from the Dutch dweil, meaning mop.
Appropriate and seasonal dress is important.
Does dwile flonking really date back to the Suffolk harvests of 400 years ago?


According to The Friends Of The Lewes Arms, "The rules of the game are impenetrable and the result is always contested." However, less alcohol-centric authorities provide more clarity.

The Lewes Arms Pub Sign

A 'dull witted person' is chosen as the referee or 'jobanowl' and the two teams decide who flonks first by tossing a sugar beet. The game begins when the jobanowl shouts "Here y'go t'gither!"
The non-flonking team joins hands and dances in a circle around a member of the flonking team, a practice known as 'girting'. The flonker dips his dwile-tipped 'driveller' (a pole 2–3 ft long and made from hazel or yew) into a bucket of beer, then spins around in the opposite direction to the girters and flonks his dwile at them.
If the dwile misses completely it is known as a 'swadger' or a 'swage'. When this happens the flonker must drink the contents of an ale-filled 'gazunder' (chamber pot ('goes-under' the bed)) before the wet dwile has passed from hand to hand along the line of now non-girting girters chanting the ancient ceremonial mantra of "pot pot pot".
A full game comprises four 'snurds', each snurd being one team taking a turn at girting. The jobanowl adds interest and difficulty to the game by randomly switching the direction of rotation, and will levy drinking penalties on any player found not taking the game seriously enough.
Points are awarded as follows:
  • +3: a 'wanton'- a direct hit on a girter's head
  • +2: a 'morther' or 'marther'- a body hit
  • +1: a 'ripple' or 'ripper'- a leg hit
  • -1 per sober person at the end of the game
At the end of the game, the team with the most number of points wins, and will be awarded a ceremonial pewter gazunder (def.: A chamber pot for the collection of faeces and urine, so called because it gazunder the bed).
Traditions Before a match the dwile flonkers sing an emotionally filled anthem "Here we 'em be together" penned by one Amos Thirkle, who was later adopted as the sport's patron saint.

Dwile Flonking: Dwile Flonking: council bans traditional pub sport under health and safety

The earliest definitely known game of Dwile Flonking was played at the Beccles Festival of Sport in 1966. According to BBC research, 'No one can remember the score, although team members recalled feeling "pretty fragile" the following morning.'
The organisers were Andrew Leverett and Robert Devereux, printing apprentices at Clay's of Bungay and Clowes of Beccles, respectively, who had apparently been shown the rules on the only decipherable portion of a parchment document entitled: 'Ye Olde Booke of Suffolk Harvest Rituels', which George High of Bungay claimed to have found the same year while clearing out his late grandfather's attic. The inaugural teams were formed by employees of Clay's and Clowes.
The team
The Team at The Racehorse pub in 2002. The picture was taken on their Christmas Day, which was the Sunday before August Bank Holiday (explains the Christmas tree on the left of the photo)
Some suspicion was cast on the game in 1967 when the Eastern Daily Press ran an article which stated inter alia that the county archivist had failed to find any mention of the game amongst the county records. Dwile Flonking featured as a key element in legal hearings later that year assessing an application for a licence extension to cater for the dinner dance of the Waveney Valley Dwile Flonking Association. The Waveney Valley Dwile Flonking Association went on to make their television debut on The Eamonn Andrews television programme in 1967, which resulted in letters from Australia, Hong Kong and America asking for a Flonking rule book, although in the Australians' case this may have been a misprint.
Schott's apparently retcons the game claiming an historical evidence in a 16th century painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder: Children's games.


  • Finn, Timothy: Pub Games of England (Oleander Press)


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports by Tony Collins, John Martin, Wray Vamplew
  2. ^ dwile, Oxford English Dictionary (2 ed.), Oxford University Press, 1989,, retrieved 2009-08-14.

External links

Thanks in part to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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